Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Community debates future of State trees

Several Madison community members made it clear Thursday night that trees play a crucial role in State Street’s redesign.

The Downtown Coordinating Committee held a public hearing to discuss the proposed State Street Redesign Plan, specifically focusing on maintaining trees on State Street.

“Either the trees will live or die,” Committee member James Tye said. “I haven’t seen an expert opinion on how to [save the trees] yet.”

Thursday’s meeting is one of many this month addressing public concerns about the design firm Wallace, Roberts and Todd’s plan.

Members of the public presenting opinions had a variety of ties to the street that connects the UW-Madison campus to the state Capitol, as well as a variety of opinions on the trees used in the proposed design. However, most members of the public agreed they wanted State Street to remain eclectic.

The proposed redesign of State Street looks good on the surface, said committee member Paul Haskew; however, when further examined, the plan contains problems. Among those problems is the tree removal.

The redesign suggests elms, which are very apt to insect pests. Most of the current trees are honey locust.

There is also concern that the present trees are being unnecessarily removed.

“Anytime you rip up a street, the trees are gone,” Dr. Laura Jull of UW Extension said. “These trees will not be able to be saved.”

After reviewing the proposed design, Jull, an assistant professor in the Department of Horticulture, saw several problems concerning tree removal and the placement of new trees.

Not all public comments condemned the given plan. John Hutchenson, owner of Fontana Sports, 251 State St., supports the plan, but said he does not see how State Street can be reconstructed without removing trees.

“I see the mall in pretty desperate shape,” Hutchenson said.

However, it’s important to him as a business owner that the redesign keeps moving and is not drawn out.

After hearing public concern, the committee decided to look into hiring an arborist to determine tree removal as well as placement on the redesigned State Street.

The Downtown Coordinating Committee is scheduled to meet again Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 5 p.m. to further discuss the issue of tree removal. The design of new bus shelters as well as lighting options for the new State Street will also be discussed.

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